It’s A Great Time To Be Sam Popkin

by Shannon Bradley

UC San Diego political scientist Sam Popkin has a wonderful new book out called “The Candidate: What It Takes To Win — and Hold – The White House” and for political junkies like me, it’s pure heaven. So many great stories about the inner workings of campaigns that, when viewed together, show patterns among successful and failed candidates.

The book’s getting all sorts of attention, my favorite review is here in the Washington Post, and he continues his online chats with James Fallows at, in what Fallows teasingly calls, “Ask Dr. Popkin.”

I had the pleasure of talking with Sam about his book and the presidential election in the downtime between the conventions and the debates. Our conversation lasted more than an hour but we’ll present his commentary in short, web-friendly chunks on our YouTube channel, UCTV Prime.

We’re starting today with The Candidate: Debate Prep, given that Obama and Romney are well into that right now, with Sam’s insight into how it feels to stand face to face with the president, and repeat what’s being said about him on the campaign trail. As Jim Lehrer would say, “Tension City!

Next up, Popkin evaluates how Romney is doing as The Challenger and Obama as The Incumbent. We’ll get to Sam’s thoughts on The Successor when we have time. It may not be relevant in this election, but if Obama prevails in November, it could become so in 2016.